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Art to heal: natural disasters


Today is the National Day of Encouragement. I don’t know about you….but I’m feeling awfully unencouraged and helpless lately.

There’s so much awfulness out in the world right now…The skies in Washington, Oregon, and California are thick with smoke and ash from fires. Texas and Louisiana are starting to dig out from Harvey, and Florida, South Carolina, and Georgia are suffering with the monstrous rage of Irma. Mexico was just hit with a huuuuuge earthquake, just as they were preparing for the onslaught of the other Atlantic hurricanes that have been chasing Irma’s coattails all last week. It’s as if Mother Nature heard doubts about climate change and replied with a big old “Hold my beer.”

And while we’ve only been paying attention to tragedies close to home, South Asia flooding has displaced 40 million people in just a few weeks. Yes, 40 MILLION. In Bangladesh it’s been 8 million – 3 million are kids. In Nepal, 1.7 million people are affected, and at least 1.5 million homes were destroyed along with thousands of schools, hospitals, roads and bridges.  1,300 were killed, and close to 40% were kids. They can’t bury all these people til the land dries out, either….can you imagine?

I am donating a lot more to charities these past few weeks – but it feels like a tiny drop in a giant bucket of need.

Blue footed booby was a reminder to Floridians to go take cover.

I need to displace compassion fatigue. How? With art.

For me, creating is my way to cope. It may not do any good for the victims to post something on instagram, but it keeps me from getting too lost in my feelings of impotence in the face of so much disaster. That just makes me sit helplessly on the sofa and stare at the wall. So I create something inspired by the tragedy, or to draw attention to it. Something to provide a commentary of some kind, to help keep it in the forefront of people’s minds. I invite you to do the same. I try to do it in respectful ways, sometimes humorous when appropriate. But most importantly:

With each piece…I’m going to make a donation.

When you see one of my pieces on Instagram, I challenge you to also go donate. It can be just a few bucks – but it’s our reminder to keep those who need our help in our thoughts and prayers – and actions.

Just last night I made a significant gift to the fund created by all our living former presidents: the One America Appeal – what a beautiful joint effort from these men.

So that’s where my head is at on this day when so many people are under Irma’s thumb and reeling in her wake. Using my art for good, and following it up with doing more than sending warm thoughts. Hope you’ll join me.


PS A public service announcement: Copic class sale at art-classes ends at midnight tonight. That feels pretty yucky for a post like this, but maybe you can take the savings from class and donate it?


18 thoughts on “Art to heal: natural disasters

  1. Sandy, thank you!

    Today is my first day online after being without power from Hurricane Irma. I only had five days; while others will be months!
    As I was perusing for business I needed to take care of I saw the heading for your post!
    Thank you for all the small things because small things add up.
    It is so overwhelming to see so many families and individuals in despair! It is overwhelming; but it can be tackled one little bit at a time.
    My family was blessed to be bypassed (Tarpon Springs, FL) but as you posted; daily so many are suffering!
    Thanks for thinking to share your art on their behalf!!
    Wishing everyone a creative and uplifted day!

  2. Beautiful post today, Sandy! So well written–that is exactly how I feel today too! Thanks for encouraging us all to keep our heads up and help out where we can! Your seagull card is perfect too!\
    Take Care!

  3. Lovely post, Sandy. It’s difficult to absorb all the stress in the world right now, and relentless heat in N Calif this summer doesn’t help. The frustrating thing for me is that climate change has become so political. The deniers are rabid–and insane–and it’s mostly politicians. Most Americans see the impacts in their own states and believe the scientific community. My alma mater, a Christian college, advocates creation care: trying to mitigate the impact of humans on our amazing planet.

  4. Sandy,
    You put into words just how I am feeling. I have more friends in the southeast than I realized. When I started thinking about where everyone lived and seeing posts on social media asking for prayers for family of other friends…I am am pretty overwhelmed! I cannot imagine how they are coping! We were evacuated during the Goodwin wildfire in early July here, in Arizona. At the time, it was the top fire priority in the U.S. It was a hard thing to go through, but it doesn’t even compare to what everyone who has been in the paths of these terrible natural disasters in the past weeks have been through.

    I think I will color!

    God bless!

  5. Please put Montana in your thoughts and prayers also. Just the loss of wildlife in my home state makes me cry, let alone the healthy forests. Please read this link:

  6. I feel helpless as well. There is only so much we can all do. The local animal shelter will be bringing in 85 animals soon and that is my plan to help. The number is staggering to all of us volunteers and how will we handle this, but we will somehow.

  7. Your thoughts are lovely and so encapsulate how I feel! It was a nice reminder that it doesn’t take much if we all give a little… the power of one is HUGE if we all participate!

  8. Your cards are stunning!! I like that you get into your art to help you cope. I wish I could. I become paralyzed and then don’t want to create anything. Thank you for the reminder to think beyond ourselves.

  9. You inspire with your words as well as your art. Thank-you

  10. Know exactly how you feel. Tears are coming more quickly to my eyes these days and my heart hurts for all the suffering that others are going through. Donations are important but, can’t help but feeling, it’s not enough. So sad.

  11. You are the dearest, thank you for so much heart as so many are desperate. I join you in cared sharing.

  12. Just had to sit down for a minute after wrapping tons of scrapbooks in plastic. I’m on the Gulf coast of North Central Florida and anticipate the eye going over us. We were told to evacuate but since we are about 25 miles from the coast decided to stay and friends with their pets from the evacuated islands along the coast are staying with us. We have a house full and are cooking lots before the electric goes off. Expecting the worse tonight into the morning. I sit down and read through the blogs I follow and sure enough, you always have thoughts and prayers waiting for those in need. Thank you Sandy for what you are doing and how you do it. VIP? no VSP! Very Special Person!

    1. We are all fine – just some down trees on the fencing. It’s a beautiful day and I’m so thankful that those in this area didn’t have flooding but are praying for those that have experienced much devastation and hard.

  13. I hadn’t heard of the tragedy in Asia. My mind is blown. There is so much going on in the world. Last night all I could do was watch the news about Florida, so devastating.

  14. Hi , Sandy, I enjoy all your art and your beautiful cards . Your blog always inspires me.
    I live in central Florida and hoping to ride out the storm. God willing we all will be safe.
    Thanks for including the One America Appeal video in your blog today . It is a powerful message and makes me grateful for all we have and share with others who need assistance.

  15. Hi Sandy. I am from Naples, FL. My husband and I flew down from NY on Wednesday to shutter up our house and are now staying with friends in Georgia, so we are safe. A neighbor who was a stranger to me came with her two teenage children and helped us for about 5 hours. They don’t own shutters for their own house. Her family never evacuated so they are using my home as their shelter. I pray for all of the people who remain in the area to keep safe…and a special prayer for my good neighbors who helped me.

  16. Sandy,

    I always enjoy your art, and think it’s a fantastic idea to encourage others to join in and find a way to help and donate.

    It is those small donations, that are gathered up into a large donation that count. If everyone who felt a desire to donate actually made that donation, that $20.00 or whatever they chose will make a difference. Small kindnesses done by a group of people can turn into a great mercy for those in need.

  17. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and helpless. Thank you for the reminder to think beyond ourselves and do what we can to help others.

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